Accessability Links

What do you know about data privacy

Michael Snow

Whether you don’t mind companies and the government knowing all about you and your search history, or whether it keeps you up at night, you should know that the harvesting of our personal details goes further than you can possibly imagine.

Google knows where you’ve been, everything you’ve ever searched – and deleted – it has an advertising profile of you, knows all of the apps you use, has years’ worth of your photos, knows the workouts you’ve done (and how regularly), the events you’ve attended, the emails you’ve sent, and has all of your YouTube history. It also knows whether you’re going to be a parent soon, what you voted, your religion or even how you’re feeling. And then there’s Facebook and Amazon. OK, if you weren’t worried before, you should be now. The good news is that there is a way to minimise who sees what and how they can use it  – and it doesn’t involve moving off grid and growing your own vegetables, although that might help.

1. Tracking IDs

Cookies are data files stored in your browser. They are the reason you’ll see ads for something you’ve looked up on Amazon. Reset your cookie ID by clearing cookies periodically. Most browsers have a private mode, so activate that – it’s not fool proof, but it helps. Many browsers also let you install add-ons that block ad trackers. Be aware that you’ll still gets ads, but they won’t be targeted ones.

2. Location, location, location

Many apps need your location to work, but Google is also able to keep a detailed account of where you are through your location services. So turn them off. When it comes to Google Timeline, you can pause or delete location history in settings.

3. IP address

Your IP address lists where your phone or computer lives on the internet – it’s how you get messages and load websites, but it can also help companies remember who you are and link the devices you use. What can you do? VPN will route your traffic through a separate IP address. It can slow performance but, more importantly, you need to trust the VPN operator.

4. Don’t sign in

It goes without saying that signing in to an online account ensures you’ll be tracked. But try to resist signing in or creating an account where you can. You could use different email addresses for various accounts, but it can be confusing – and don’t forget to use different passwords – using the same password means it’s much easier to hack.

We’ll never be in complete control of our digital footprint, but we can certainly make it a little more difficult to be tracked.

Read our related blog: How big data is going from strength to strength

Add new comment

Meet the team

Back to Top